Porcupine Puffer Fish

Updated August 6, 2019
Author: Mike - FishLore Admin
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The Spiney Porcupine Puffer Fish is an odd looking fish that has the obvious ability to inflate with water when threatened. Porcupine Puffers can also inflate with air if removed from the water and this can damage them internally. To prevent this from happening try to scoop or direct them into a bag when moving them. Try not to use a net to move them.

Diodon hystrix Diodon hystrix

In the ocean Porcupine Puffer Fish can often be found in small groups but replicating this in the home aquarium can be foolish because of their potential adult size and because they can be one of the dirtier fishes to keep. They have a relatively high bioload.

They can reach 12 inches (30 cm) or more so you'll need to have a larger tank, preferably 100 gallons (380 liters) or larger. For most hobbyists, keeping multiple Porcupine Puffers would not be a good idea.

For tank mates for your Porcupine Puffer Fish, look into the tangs and wrasses. Smaller fishes and saltwater invertebrates may become Porcupine Puffer dinner. So that eliminates them as a choice for the reef tank setup.

Porcupine Puffer Fish eat crustaceans in the wild and will accept most types of marine fish food including frozen, freeze dried, vitamin enriched flakes and live foods. Small pieces of fresh shrimp and clam can be chopped up and given. Give them a variety of fish foods but mostly meaty items for optimal health.

Diodon hystrix Diodon hystrix

They can be particularly prone to getting saltwater ich (cryptocaryon) so you will need to take proper pre-cautions and use a quarantine tank before introducing them into your main tank. It can be a good idea to let them sit in the dealer's tank for a week or two before bringing them home. This will give you them a chance to recuperate from the sometimes long journey to the dealer's tank and it gives you a chance to watch for any sort of outbreaks before you buy them.

Diodon hystrix Diodon hystrix

Porcupine Puffer Fish Care

Scientific Name : Diodon hystrix

Common Names : Balloon Porcupine Fish, Spiny Puffer

Care Level : Moderate

Size : 12 inches (30 cm), sometimes even larger

Life span : 5 years or longer

pH : 8.1 - 8.4

Temperature : 75°F - 82°F (25°C - 28°C)

Specific Gravity : 1.020 - 1.025

Carbonate Hardness (dKH) : 8 - 12°

Origin / Habitat : Western Atlantic, Eastern Atlantic, South Africa, Red Sea

Temperament / Behavior : This can be a cool fish in the right setup. They may nip at and eat smaller fish, invertebrates and crustaceans. This fish is NOT considered reef tank safe. They live alone near reefs and caves.

Breeding : We don't believe that this fish has been bred in captivity yet.

Aquarium Size : 100 gallon (380 liters) minimum

Tank Mates : Tangs and wrasses would make good tank mates. Anything smaller could become puffer snacks. Not suitable for a reef tank setup.

Fish Disease : Saltwater Fish Disease - Diagnose, Symptoms and Treatment

Diet / Foods : They are carnivorous nocturnal feeders and they like to eat crustaceans so frozen meaty marine cubes work well as well as small pieces of fresh shrimp. Give them some of the herbivore frozen foods a few times per week and try to get them to eat vitamin enriched flake foods too.

Tank Region : All over

Gender : Very difficult to determine the differences between males and females.

Fish Lore Forum : Puffer Fish Forum

Photo Credit : Photos copyright JJPhoto.dk

Site References :

Porcupine Puffer Fish Comments

From: Boxermom
Porcupine puffers get closer to 18". They have four teeth fused into two plates, one upper and one lower. Because their teeth continue to grow constantly throughout their lives, they require hard shelled foods such as mussels and clams in order to keep their teeth from overgrowing. If they do not get adequate amounts, their teeth will have to be manually filed down. If properly cared for, their life span is closer to 12-15 years. They are, sadly, highly prone to lock jaw. Treatment can often be successful however. They should be in a species-only tank. Some are compatible with other species, some aren't. Its highly dependent upon individual personalities and caution should be taken when having tank mates. Despite their appearance, they are considered to be very aggressive. pH is best between 7.6-8.2.

From: Marine Biologist
Having worked with Porcupine Puffer Fish (among many others) for the past 10 years I can tell you that they do very well in large fish only systems with a good bit of live rock. They get along well with other larger, somewhat boisterous tank mates. You can keep more than one in your aquarium if the tank is on the larger side (180 gallons or bigger). Diodon Holocanthus should be fed freeze dried Krill and plankton (with the shell on) as well as frozen food and algae. Though carnivorous a fair amount of their diet in the wild is made up of seaweed and other plant material. Overall a beautiful and hardy species.